Daily Archives: September 24, 2011

JO JONES CENTENNIAL FESTIVAL (Oct. 2 -8, 2011) on WKCR-FM

Jo Jones, Coleman Hawkins, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Sir Charles Thompson, Jimmy Woode — London, 1964: CARAVAN

News from a great jazz radio station — WKCR-FM, emanating from Columbia University in New York City:

Tune in to for the Jo Jones Centennial from October 2nd at 2:00 p.m. to October 8th at 12:00 noon. Throughout the day, you’ll be able to hear presentations of the work of Papa Jo Jones by theme, with each show focusing on particular instrumentations, groupings, or musical qualities. Even if you’re an extreme Basie-ite, or know Jones better than most, you’re likely to hear something fresh this week: live performances and airchecks, music from the West End, recordings from Jones’ film appearances, and other stellar rarities. 

Jonathan “Jo” Jones (b. 10/7/11), nicknamed “Papa” to avoid confusion with jazz drummer Philly Joe Jones, stands as one of the most accomplished, influential, and innovative practitioners of his art in the history of jazz. Born in Chicago and raised in Alabama, Jones eventually made his way to Kansas City, Missouri, where he first recorded with Hunter’s Serenaders in 1931. His next recording, the Smith-Jones Inc. session in 1936, began his epochal work with William “Count” Basie, as well as a relationship with Lester “Pres” Young that would last into the ’50s. By the time Basie began recording under his own leadership, Jones was a part of a rhythm section that would redefine jazz and help usher in the pinnacle of the Swing Era. Jones played with Basie nearly continuously until 1944, when he was drafted for two years just at the end of the war. During this pre-war era he also worked with Teddy Wilson in the band for many of Billie Holiday’s greatest recordings. After his return, Jones continued to influence his peers, using his sound to balance Illinois Jacquet’s ferocious swing, Sonny Stitt’s ecstatic lines, and the melodies of singers like Jimmy Rushing and Joe Turner. Jones appeared as part of Jazz at the Philharmonic and at Newport as the guest of Basie and the Oscar Peterson Trio in ’57 and ’58, respectively. Eventually, he began recording as a leader with musicians like Ray and Tommy Bryant and old friends like Roy Eldridge. After his time with Basie, the great breadth of his work ensured that his sound persisted through the changes of bebop and beyond. Jones’ method of supporting swing, his talent for adding depth to the human voice, and his consistently impressive conception and execution live on. His sound provided the necessary backbone upon which so much great music was built. Join us in celebrating what would have been his 100th birthday, October 7th, 2011, with nearly a week of his music.

I spent many happy hours listening to and tape-recording the astonishing jazz festivals that WKCR-FM (89.9) had in years past . . . sometimes setting my alarm during the night to wake up at three-hour intervals to turn the tape reel over and go back to sleep, sometimes scheduling my daily activities around what would be broadcast that day.  Because of Phil Schaap, one of the station’s most diligent and enduring members, Jo Jones and WKCR have been linked for many years, with Jo speaking on-air to honor other jazz greats.  The station also broadcast live jazz from the West End Cafe (now no longer a music mecca) with Jo leading small groups that included Harold Ashby, Don Coates, John Ore, Sammy Price, Taft Jordan, Paul Quinichette, and others — even a teenaged Stanley Jordan.  Jo Jones deserves a week-long tribute of this depth and scope, and I’m only sorry that it had to wait for his centennial — after his death.  Listeners outside of the New York metropolitan area should visit WKCR’s online site — http://www.wkcr.org — where (through RealPlayer — the installation takes about six or seven minutes) the broadcasts can be heard without a radio, streaming.  I disposed of my reel-to-reel recorder years ago, but the good news is that RealPlayer entices me: click on a little red button, bottom left, and record the signal “to my library.”  I wonder how many external hard drives the centennial would fill up?  At least I could now get an unbroken night’s sleep.

WALKERS IN THE CITY: LIZA CONDON, EMILY ASHER, SHOES, CRAYFISH, and MORE

A friend told me about a new blog with a story on it about Liza Condon (one of Eddie Condon’s two daughters) and a connection to the trombonist Emily Asher.  Curious but expecting not too much, I went to the blog, which is called WALKERS IN THE CITY — http://walkersinthecity.blogspot.com/ — and I’m hooked.  You will be too: the stories are not only about jazz and New York City, but about the man interested in a pair of red clogs, Truffel the elegantly-mannered Dutch dog, and more.  Worth visiting, reading, and taking note of!

GET HOT in NEW ORLEANS AT A DISCOUNT (sign up before Sept. 30, 2011)!

This just in from the New Orleans Traditional Jazz Camp for Adults:

Spend a week in Historic New Orleans learning to play Traditional Jazz under the instruction of some of the finest musicians in the city, enjoy some of the best food in the world, and marvel at the beautiful architecture of the French Quarter. Come to the Birthplace of Jazz and fall under the magical spell of our music and our people. As they say, “There is no place like New Orleans!”

The New Orleans Traditional Jazz Camp for Adults will be held June 10-15, 2012.  Tuition, which includes instruction, lodging, breakfast and lunch, will be discounted $150.00 if paid in full by the early bird registration deadline of September 30, 2011.  It is important to register and pay early to reserve your spot because classes will fill up. 

To date, we are about 2/3 full with campers registered from all over the United States as well as Sweden, Germany and Finland.  Campers spend the day in ensemble and group sessions with their instructors and evenings are spent jamming at the hotel or at various music venues nearby.  Fritzel’s is right across the street from the hotel and Preservation Hall and other music venues are within a short walking distance.

Music history speakers discuss New Orleans music heritage and culture during meals. One evening of the camp is dedicated to a traditional New Orleans “Second Line Parade.”  Campers parade through the streets of the French Quarter playing jazz to the delight of our many visitors.  Another night campers perform at the world-renowned Preservation Hall, a moving experience for everyone to be in the revered “Hall” where many of our musical fathers and mothers performed.

Camp concludes Friday night with a “Camper Concert” at the Grand Ballroom of the Historic Bourbon Orleans Hotel.  The public is invited and the ballroom really swings. Saturday is “Lagniappe Day,” a little something extra, a Traditional Jazz Festival.  Campers who can stay over are invited to perform at this festival.

Please visit our website at www.neworleanstradjazzcamp.com for more information.

We look forward to our 3rd camp and reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones.

Red Beans and Ricely Yours,(as Louis Armstrong said)

Banu Gibson  Leslie Cooper  Nita Hemeter

A little commentary from JAZZ LIVES.  The faculty includes Banu Gibson, vocals and good cheer; Kerry Lewis, string bass; David Sager, trombone; Otis Bazoon, reeds; Matt Perrine, bass / tuba; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Carl LeBlanc, banjo; Gerald French, drums; Leah Chase, vocals; Ed Clute, piano; and the irreplaceable Hot guru of the cornet, Connie Jones.  Do you think if I pray at the shrine of Donald S. Reinhardt (with or without the pencil) I could be ready to go there in 2012?  I can dream — but you can sign up . . . .

UNDERNEATH THE ARCHES: THE REYNOLDS BROTHERS and BOB DRAGA at SWEET AND HOT 2011

The Reynolds Brothers bring it in a gratifying hot, witty way.  More from these Swing Masters and clarinetist Bob Draga, recorded outdoors at “Rampart Street” at the 2011 Sweet and Hot Music Festival.  (“Rampart Street” is something of a joke born of necessity: sharp-eyed viewers will see that the imagined ceiling of this outdoors stage is a highway ramp.) 

For this set, the Brothers were Ralf (washboard, vocal); John (guitar, banjo, vocal, whistling); Marc Caparone (cornet), Katie Cavera (string bass, vocal); Larry Wright (alto sax, ocarina), with the nimble lines of Bob Draga weaving in and out.

Is there anything finer than DINAH?

The band that has Katie Cavera in it is doubly or triply gifted — instrumentally and vocally, as she demonstrates on DO YOU EVER THINK OF ME?

Nothing but BLUE SKIES do I see:

Perhaps because the odd stage, John came up with OUT OF NOWHERE for his homage to Harry Lillis Crosby:

Translate the lyrics to the Fields-McHugh DIGA DIGA DOO without being politically incorrect and win a prize — or just get swept along by the fine momentum here:

SADIE GREEN (The Vamp of New Orleans) . . . was a hot mama, and this tune is a heated improvisation in her honor — half vaudeville, half rocking jazz:

I have a special fondness for OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN — one of those 1931 songs designed to make the homeless and unemployed feel that their lot was endurable . . . but the sentiments it espouses (a love of Nature, freedom from materialism, and a Thoreau-like simplicity mixed with a hip socialism) touch a responsive chord, as do the Brothers in this performance:

I’m as happy as I can be (even though my heart feels a chill) when the Reynolds Brothers SWING THAT MUSIC.  And Marc’s singing is just grand:

Yeah, man!

P.S.  A reader wrote in, “I love the Reynolds Brothers, but why does the one with the washboard [that’s Ralf] keep blowing that whistle?”  Youth wants to know: Ralf blows that whistle when a member of the band creates a particularly hoary “quotation” from another song — it’s in the interest of fairness, a referee calling FOUL.  Now you know.

P.P.S.  Connee Boswell’s rendition of the beautifully sad song UNDERNEATH THE ARCHES should be better known, especially in perilous economic times.